Rape Prevalence: Almost 3 in 10 Nigerians claim to know a victim – NOIPOLLS


A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that most Nigerians (85 percent) believe that the issue of rape is prevalent in the country. In 2017, the Nigerian Senate passed a motion to investigate the increasing incidence of rape and sexual assault across the country. And, on July 9th, 2019, the legislators began considering death penalty for rape offenders as they deliberated on a motion “Sexual abuse in Nigeria: a growing scourge” sponsored by Senator Rose Oko, representing Cross River North in Cross River State, and 10 other senators.

The poll results further revealed that a larger proportion (62 percent) of the respondents stated that rape is coercing someone to have sex or perform a sexual act only by means of physical force or a deadly weapon. On the definition of consent, a majority (92 percent) of the respondents identified that consent as it relates to rape is one which is given verbally by an individual who is of age and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, it is worrisome to note that 52 percent of Nigerians also believe that consent can be given by an individual who while underage (below 18 years) but still says yes. It is worthy to note that under the Nigerian Criminal Code, sexual intercourse with underaged individuals or individuals with the unsound mind is the offence of defilement, and so technically a person could be charged for rape and defilement.

About 3 in 10 Nigerians (26 percent) disclosed that they know someone who has been raped in the past and the rape victims were particularly minors and young adults aged between 1 – 15 years (72 percent) and 16 – 25 years (24 percent) respectively. This statistic implies that one in every three girls would have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they reach 25 years. According to the respondents, offenders were mostly strangers (38 percent), while neighbours (24 percent), an acquaintance of the victims (18 percent) and relatives (16 percent) accounted for the other categories of offenders. Further probing revealed that most of the rape incidence happened either at the victim’s residence (36 percent) or at the offender’s residence (24 percent).

There are perceptions that rape cases have been under-reported especially to the Police, findings showed that slightly more than half (53 percent) of the respondents mentioned that rape incidents were reported to the Police. Out of this proportion, 67 percent acknowledged that the offenders were arrested, while 33 percent claimed that the offender was not arrested. This implies that about 3 in 10 perpetrators of this atrocious crime often don’t face the drum or the dictates of the law against the crime even when reported to the police. Comparing the results of this pole with an earlier poll conducted in 2014 show a 25 percent decline in the proportion of Nigerians who reported rape incidence to the Police. This may suggest that Nigerians are not satisfied with the level of prosecution of rape offenders in the country when reported to the Police. Nonetheless, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, during an exclusive interview with The Guardian News media in Abuja on July 13, 2019, assured Nigerians that the Police and the State owe victims of rape the responsibility to diligently investigate the complaint and bring offenders to book.  Sadly, 8 percent of Nigerians disclosed that the incidence was not reported to the police and this was majorly due to fear of stigmatization (46 percent), victim’s family chose not to report (17 percent), thought that the Police may not take the incident seriously (7 percent) and belief that the Police may fail to solve the crime (5 percent) amongst other reasons.

Curiously, Nigerians blamed the incidence of rape mainly on the indecent dressing (47 percent), excess intake of alcohol by the offenders (36 percent) and victims (34 percent) and promiscuity (34 percent). In terms of justice, Nigerians mostly advocated life imprisonment (37 percent), the death penalty (22 percent) and prosecution (20 percent) for offenders of rape in the country. In addition, a larger proportion (41 percent) of Nigerians from the poll recommended that offenders of rape should be punished considering that some of the offenders elude the wrath of the law. Also, 19 percent suggest that there should be more awareness campaign on the dangers of rape to help reduce the increasing trend of rape in society. It is therefore important that concerned stakeholders’ and the government, particularly the National Orientation Agency, work together to find the most effective way of implementing and disseminating greater awareness campaigns on the dangers as well as the consequences of rape and to reinforce the government’s commitment to end the scourge.